Sudharshan Sekar

Postdoctoral Associate

Effects of metals and microbial community on the activity and diversity of Springtail (Collembola) populations in Marion Island sub-Antarctic Indian Ocean

(with Prof. Rosemary Dorrington and Dr Gwynneth Matcher)

Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic environment presents a relatively isolated environment protected by the circumpolar atmospheric and oceanic currents; as such it is an ideal place to develop studies on dispersion of global pollutants. However, in recent years, some studies have suggested that Antarctica is no longer a pristine environment due to the gradual emergence of certain pollutants from various sources, which have been measured in different environmental matrices. Springtails, together with mites, are the most abundant soil arthropods; consequently, much toxicity data on metals has recently become available for these species.

The influence of metal contamination on natural springtail communities has, however, only been the subject of a few studies. Thus, the monitoring of the levels of metals in soils is an important task for the assessment of the environmental health in the region. Sudharshan’s work is providing insights into the identity and composition of microbial soil communities from Marion Island. He will link some of the soil biotic and abiotic properties to the abundance and distribution of soil biota.